calling for backup
More than 40,000 Syrians have signed up to fight for Russia in Ukraine, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are allies, with Putin supporting Assad throughout the Syrian civil war with military assistance. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighters are enlisting in Damascus and Aleppo, and have been told they will receive "a salary and benefits." About 400 are being trained right now in Russia near the border with Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials say Putin has turned to Syria for help because Russia is experiencing heavy losses in Ukraine. On Monday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that since the invasion began on Feb. 24, Russia has suffered more casualties in Ukraine than during both Chechen wars. Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Zelensky's chief of staff, told Ukrainian media that Russia is on track to run out of resources by early May.
"We are at a fork in the road now," Arestovich said. "There will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some, say, Syrians for a round two and, when we grind them too, an agreement by mid-April or late April." He added that it would be "completely crazy" for Russia to send new troops to Ukraine after just a month of training.